Prophets and Profits : Ancient Divination and Its Reception book cover
1st Edition

Prophets and Profits
Ancient Divination and Its Reception

Edited By

Richard Evans

ISBN 9781138290150
Published September 7, 2017 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

This volume examines the ways in which divination, often through oracular utterances and other mechanisms, linked mortals with the gods, and places the practice within the ancient sociopolitical and religious environment. Whether humans sought knowledge by applying to an oracle through which the god was believed to speak or used soothsayers who interpreted specific signs such as the flight of birds, there was a fundamental desire to know the will of the gods. In many cases, pragmatic concerns – personal, economic or political – can be deduced from the context of the application.

Divination and communication with the gods in a post-pagan world has also produced fascinating receptions. The presentation of these processes in monotheistic societies such as early Christian Late Antiquity (where the practice continued through the use of curse tablets) or medieval Europe, and beyond, where the role of religion had changed radically, provides a particular challenge and this topic has been little discussed by scholars. This volume aims to rectify this desideratum by providing the opportunity to address questions related to the reception of Greco-Roman divination, oracles and prophecy, in all media, including literature and film.

Several contributions in this volume originated in the 2015 Classics Colloquium held at the University of South Africa and the volume has been augmented with additional contributions.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Daniel Ogden

Chapter 2: Was Didyma (Branchidae) a False Prophet?

Richard Evans

Chapter 3: ‘Who Wrote Greek Curse Tablets?’

Olivier Dufault

Chapter 4: A Story of Blood, Guts and Guesswork: Synthetic Reasoning in Classical Greek Divination

Ralph Anderson

Chapter 5: Value-Added Divination at Dodona

Philip Bosman

Chapter 6: Divination and Profit in the Roman World

Federico Santangelo

Chapter 7: Profiting from Prophecy: Q. Marcius Rex and the Construction of the Aqua Marcia

Alex Nice

Chapter 8: Valerius Maximus and the Language of Stars

Jeffrey Murray

Chapter 9: "Arrows Fletched from Our Own Wings": Discovering a ‘Delphi of the Mind’ in the Writings of the Early Church Fathers

Daniel Crosby

Chapter 10: Egyptian Necromancy in Heliodorus Aethiopica (6.12-15) and The Witch of Endor Narrative (1 Sam 28)

John Hilton

Chapter 11: Sosipatra: Prophetess, Philosopher and Theurgist: Reflections on Divination and Epistemology in Late Antiquity

Crystal Addey

Chapter 12: One Oracle too Many? Corippus and Procopius on Female Prophecy in North Africa

Martine de Marre

Chapter 13: Deconstructing Divination: Superstition, Anticlericalism, and Cicero’s De Divinatione in Enlightenment England

Katherine East

Chapter 14: Prophecy and Paul Kruger: Robert Grendon’s Appropriation of Greco-Roman Prophets and Prophetic Devices in his South African Epic, Paul Kruger’s Dream

Szerdi Nagy

Chapter 15: Cassandra Prophesies Back: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Firebrand

Elke Steinmeyer

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Richard Evans has taught at the Universities of South Africa and Cardiff. His research has focused on the political and military history of Greece and Rome, and the ancient topography of Sicily and Magna Graecia. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa.